Act One Study Guide
wherefore – why; for what reason
exeunt – exit; leave the stage (stage
vulgar – common people
(Flavius, line 72, noun)
construe – think; interpret
blank verse – unrhymed poetry or lines of
(characters – Flavius, Murellus)
prose – literature written in sentence and
(characters – Cobbler, Carpenter)
(reason for prose/poetry – separate the upper
class of society from the lower)
Literary Terms, cont.
tragedy – play in which a main character
(tragic hero) suffers a downfall
pun – humorous play on two or more
meanings of the same word or on two
different words with the same sound
(example – Truly, sir, all that I live by is with the
Literary Terms, cont
conflict – struggle between opposing forces in
a story or play
(external - against outside force
1 – person vs. person, 2 – person vs. nature,
3 – person vs. society, 4 – person vs. fate)
(internal – within the mind of a character torn
between opposing feelings or goals; person
Literary Terms, cont.
soliloquy – long speech spoken by character in
dramatic work who is typically alone on stage
(example – Cassius’s speech in Act 1, Scene 2,
lines 303 – 317)
iambic meter – two syllables given a predictable
rhythm; unstressed, followed by stressed
iambic pentameter – five iambic meters; most
common meter in English poetry
(O par/don me, /thou bleed/ing piece/of earth.
Literary Terms, cont.
metaphor – figure of speech that compares two
or more things that have something in common
(example – Upon what meat doth this our Caesar
feed that he is grown so great, lines 149 - 150)
simile – a figure of speech using like or as to
compare seemingly unlike things
(example – He doth bestride the narrow world like
a Colossus, lines 135 – 136)
Where and when was Shakespeare born?
What theatre did Shakespeare help build?
Globe (Wooden O)
When did he die?
In what historical period was Shakespeare
English Renaissance (16th century)
Who was the ruler of England at that time?
What three types of plays did Shakespeare
write? Give examples of each.
Comedies – Much Ado About Nothing
Tragedies – Julius Caesar; Romeo and Juliet
Histories – Henry IV
What was it like to go to a play during
Three levels of galleries – for middle class
and nobility (benches of stone or wood)
Less well-to-do people – stand and watch
from the center; on the ground (groundlings)
Play’s length – 3 hours; no intermission
Play’s time – daylight hours
Theatre Season – May to September
What historian did Shakespeare use as a
source for writing Julius Caesar?
Thomas North’s translation of Plutarch’s
Original source – Plutarch’s history (Plutarch
was a famous historian from Caesar’s era.)
When and where did Julius Caesar live?
100 BC – 44 BC
What was his given name?
Full name – Gaius Julius Caesar
Who was Pompey?
Although he is not in the play, why is he
important to the plot?
Caesar defeated him in battle right before the
play begins in a civil war.
Caesar seems prepared to reestablish a
monarchy in Rome after many years of living
in a republic.
What is the setting of the play?
A street in Rome
What holiday is being celebrated?
The Feast of Lupercal (religious festival for a
god worshiped by shepherds as a protector
Also, people are out celebrating Caesar’s
victory and homecoming.
Who are Murellus and Flavius?
Tribunes – public officials who protect the
rights of the lower classes (plebians)
Why do they want to drive the commoners
(plebians) from the street?
Murellus and Flavius were loyal followers of
the former ruler, Pompey, and they are upset
that Caesar is being celebrated for victory
over a fellow Roman and not a foreign foe
What do these two tribunes do to further hinder
the celebration of Caesar’s victory?
Remove the decorations honoring Caesar
from statues around Rome
Send the common people back to their
homes and jobs
What does Caesar tell Antony to do to
Calphurnia during the race?
To touch Calphurnia with his leather thong (a
strip of leather or hide used for whipping) as
he runs in a race.
Caesar hopes it will make her fertile
Why might Caesar ask Antony to do this in front
of everyone else?
To demonstrate Antony’s loyalty to Caesar in
front of everyone present.
“When Caesar says, ‘Do this,’ it is
What is a soothsayer?
A person who predicts the future
Of what does he warn Caesar?
“Beware the Ides of March (March 15)
What does the Latin term ides mean?
The middle of the month.
Does Marcus Brutus like Caesar?
What does Brutus think of Caesar’s rise to
power? Use lines from the play to support
He’s afraid of what it means for Rome if
Caesar becomes King.
“ . . . yet I love him well.” (line 82)
Brutus says, “For let the gods so speed me as I
love/The name of honor more than I fear
death.” What do these lines imply about
Brutus’s most important value in life?
He values truthfulness
He’d rather lose his life than lie.
What story does Cassius tell Brutus about
That once Caesar dared Cassius to swim to a
specific point off the banks of the Tiber River.
Cassius had to save Caesar when Caesar
became too weak to swim any further.
Why do you think Cassius told this story?
To show Caesar is not as powerful as he may
appear to be.
What is Caesar’s opinion of Cassius?
He doesn’t like or trust him. He says his eyes
are like a ferret’s and that he is too lean.
Why does he feel this way?
Cassius likes to read and think; he’s too
serious for Caesar. Caesar also believes
he’s power hungry and wily.
What handicap does Caesar reveal about
himself when speaking to Antony?
He’s deaf in his left ear.
How many times was Caesar offered a coronet
(a small crown) while at the race?
What was Caesar’s reaction to the offering,
according to Casca?
He would have liked to accept the crown, but
didn’t dare to yet.
Caesar put on a show of modesty for the
It’s important to remember that it’s Caesar’s “yes”
man offering the crown and not the people.
What sickness does Caesar appear to be
Epilepsy - “falling sickness”
What happens to Murellus and Flavius?
They were “put to silence” (banned from
speaking in public, exiled, or even executed)
for removing decorations from the statues of
What does Cassius plan to do to convince
Brutus to conspire against Caesar?
Secretly deliver letters that appear to be from
several citizens hinting to Brutus that Caesar
will not be a good ruler.
What unusual events occur during the storm?
Casca saw a man with hands on fire, but his
skin was not burning.
A lion was walking on the street by the
Capitol, but did not attack Casca.
Others saw people on fire walking on the
An screeching owl, a night bird, was seen in
the marketplace during the day.
What meaning does Cassius interpret from the
He believes these seemingly bad omens are
good signs for his purposes.
He believes the gods are warning the
Romans about bad things that will come if
Caesar comes to power.
According to Casca, what are the senators
planning to do to Caesar tomorrow?
They will make Caesar king of Rome.
Who is definitely part of the conspiracy?
Brutus has not yet decided to join the conspiracy
so including his name in this group, at the end of
ACT 1, would be premature.